Major search ongoing after car found in Northumberland river

Some of the emergency vehicles near the scene of the search. Picture by Ian Glendinning
Some of the emergency vehicles near the scene of the search. Picture by Ian Glendinning

A major search operation is under way in the Upper Coquet Valley, after a car was reported in the river.

The operation, which is involving Northumbria Police's Marine Unit, Water Rescue Unit and the force's helicopter, is searching an area near Shillmoor, north of Alwinton, for the driver of the car.

More emergency vehicles at the scene. Picture by Steve Miller

More emergency vehicles at the scene. Picture by Steve Miller

Police received a call at 12.22pm and were on the scene at around 1pm. They have been joined by Northumberland Fire and Rescue crews, Mountain Rescue units and the North East Ambulance Service.

There are reports of around 20 emergency vehicles on the scene.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "We are involved in an ongoing multi-agency search operation after a car was found in the river. The search is in the early stages."

The county councillor for the area, Steven Bridgett, posted an appeal on Facebook: 'There is quite a bit of speculation as to what all of the emergency vehicles that have gone through Rothbury today, are for. There is an ongoing, potentially serious incident in the Upper Coquet Valley, that our emergency teams are putting all of their training and expertise into addressing. Let’s let them get on with it and I am sure as soon as they have something to report, they will come back to us. This is not one of those occasions where people should view it as an opportunity to go up and spectate or take pictures. Please stay well clear!'

The search is being conducted around the Usway Burn, which feeds into the River Coquet. There is still a lot of snow in the area and the River Coquet is swollen and fast-flowing due to the thaw. Avalanches have also been reported as the snow melts.

4pm UPDATE: Northumbria Police statement - 'Emergency services are carrying out a search for a Northumberland man after a vehicle has been found in a river in Northumberland. At around 12.20pm today (March 11) police received a report that a car had been found by a member of the public in a river near Shillmoor, Alwinton. Emergency and specialist teams are now conducting an extensive search of the river and the surrounding areas to locate the driver of the vehicle. Anyone with information that may help the search should contact 101 quoting reference 457 110318.'